Saturday, October 18, 2008

Time to “respice, adspice et prospice” at Quatuor Coronati

Peter Currie and Brent Morris at La Petite Auberge
in New York City, December 10, 2007.

And speaking of new Masters at lodges of research, we are near that time of year when Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076 in London elects and installs its new officers.

It seems like only yesterday when W. Bro. S. Brent Morris was installed in the East of QC2076, becoming the first American to attain that station, but it’s been almost a year. On Thursday, November 13, the Master Elect, W. Bro. Peter Currie, will be installed in the Solomonic Chair of the world’s first lodge of Masonic research. If you’ll be in town, the meeting will open at 5 p.m. precisely at Freemasons’ Hall on Great Queen Street. Dress is morning dress or dark suit, undress regalia and white gloves.

This communication also will be the annual Festival of the Four Crowned Martyrs, a belated observance of the November 8 feast day honoring the namesakes of this lodge.

The Inaugural Paper of the Worshipful Master concerns Stability Ritual, which was devised in 1817 by the Stability Lodge of Instruction and has since spread around the globe. W. Bro. Currie served as secretary to the Stability Ritual Association for 14 years, and edited the Stability Ritual book in 1992, so his explanation and insight into this topic is sure to enlighten, especially if you think Emulation is the only ritual worked in England.

According to the summons for this meeting, W. Bro. Currie is the editor (since 1999) and indexer (since 1993) of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the annual book of transactions of the lodge. His published papers include “The Growth and Development of Masonic Ritual,” “The H. S., Whence Did It Take Its Rise?” and “Two Masonic Arks,” which won the lodge’s Norman B. Spencer Prize in 1998.

His work on the archives of this lodge will prove priceless. Currie and W. Bro. David Peabody, a Past Master of QC2076, have digitized every volume of AQC in searchable PDF format. That’s the entire library of lodge transactions from 1886 through today. When a complete set of books becomes available somewhere, it fetches several thousand dollars. I don’t know how the lodge or its Correspondence Circle plans to distribute the CDs, but Masonic scholars, libraries and research lodges all over the world will be lining up to purchase these discs. This modernization of media represents more than just a new format for old texts; this venerable lodge is weighing other options as it investigates the best ways to remain an indispensable leader in Masonic education and a peerless conservator of Masonic heritage.

Bro. Currie also has edited, typeset and designed several books in recent years, including “Tracing Boards: Their Development and Their Designers” and “Royal Arch Masons and Knights Templar at Redruth, Cornwall, 1791-1828.”

In the works currently are his updated versions of Knoop, Jones and Hamer’s three seminal books on Craft history: “Early Masonic Catechisms,” “Early Masonic Pamphlets” and “The Genesis of Freemasonry.” Also, he is revising and compiling “The Masonic Yearbook Historical Supplement,” a Who’s Who of England’s grand lodge officers from 1717 to date, which also will appear in PDF format. And on top of all that, Bro. Currie is QC2076’s webmaster.

Currie was initiated into Hundred of Axstane Lodge, No. 7722 in the Province of West Kent, where he served as Master in 1991-92. He also is a Past Master of Queens College Taunton Lodge, No. 6988 in Somerset, and is a Past Zerubbabel of Royal Naval and Military Chapter, No. 2404 of Royal Arch Masons in East Kent, to name only a few of his Masonic affiliations.

The QC2076 meeting schedule for 2009 is:

Thursday, February 19
Thursday, May 14
Thursday, June 25
Thursday, September 10
Thursday, November 12

The paper at the February meeting will be “Miners, Mariners and Masonic Mobility: The Membership of West Cornwall Masonic Lodges During the Victorian Period” by W. Bro. Roger Burt.

According to the summons for this meeting: “This paper focuses on ten Craft lodges to the west of Truro, analyzing the social and economic backgrounds of their membership during the second half of the nineteenth century. It notices that the inland lodges were dominated by mining men, while those on the coast included very large numbers of master mariners and other maritime related activities. While this is to be expected in lodges that represented local communities, closer investigation strongly suggests that many were joining to facilitate migration and travel, at home and abroad. Consideration will be given to the role of Freemasonry as an international fraternity and the importance of ‘migratory Masons’ in maintaining close bonds between emerging national grand lodges worldwide. In brief, what did Masonry offer to highly mobile occupational groups, and what did migratory Masons offer to Freemasonry?”

Front: Trevor Stewart and Roger Burt.
Rear: John Acaster and Peter Currie.
At Alpha Lodge No. 116 in New Jersey, December 12, 2007.

W. Bro. Burt, again according to the meeting summons, “spent an academic career at the University of Exeter, teaching and researching the influences that shaped the evolution of modern industrial and post-industrial society. In that context, he now uses his own experience of Masonry to shape and inform a longstanding program of research into the socio-economic structure of Masonic lodges at home and overseas during the Victorian period. With most of his previous publications in the field of mining history, he has chosen to place these enquiries largely within the context of the mining regions and mining communities which he knows well. Bro. Burt has now retired and is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Exeter and an Honorary Professor in the Center for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. Bro. Burt is a Past Master of Vectis Lodge, No. 3075 and a member of Royal Arch.”

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